Alright! So, we’re back it. I assume there’s a huge crossover fanbase between these two shows, but in case you missed the explanation in the Total Divas recaps, we missed last week due to some really crummy and almost very serious health issues. The good news is we’re still gonna plow through these past two episodes so everyone knows what’s going on, even if just watching the actual shows doesn’t really make that entirely clear. The better news is we’re gonna breeze through last week’s episode because too much Impact without the benefit of being heavily medicated is a terrible idea. And even then…
Some housekeeping before we dive in: Be sure to catch up on what happened in the previous episodes here. You can follow me on Twitter here, With Spandex here, and UPROXX here. Lastly, you can share this with the rest of the internet using these buttons:
This week on Impact: We’re doubling down on the last two episodes, so get yourself a glass of water, take a deep breath, and hunker down for as much Impact Wrestling as you can fit in your facehole.
Here’s What I remember From Watching Last Week’s Show…Last Week
– Cracking open a brand new bottle of DayQuil
– Cooing and gently pawing at the screen when Rockstar Spud showed up
– Making a very impassioned mental argument that Nadine is the best and most tragic character on Twin Peaks outside of the sexually abused murder victim and Audrey Horne is very pretty but can go f-ck herself
– writing a text to someone on the show asking if Dixie Carter wears a lot of perfume and then never sending it because it seemed like a weird thing to ask (I still want to know, FYI)
– Matt Hardy???
Here’s What Actually Happened
I’m not gonna pretend that this is any different from everything I described above, or that I’m not pretty doped out of my gourd, but I am going to fill in more of the blanks and probably fight you in real life if you disagree with the Nadine thing.
Matt Hardy was definitely there. He’s the champ, he kinda has to be. Reby Sky said a bunch of stuff about him being sexy (ew), Hardy insisted that Dixie Carter stop avoiding him, fire EC3, and let him show her how to properly run a company (double ew), and Tyrus called EC3 a coward and said that without someone there to watch his back he’d be nothing (eh).
Dixie Carter would do no such thing, however she did spend a good deal of time cowering while Matt Hardy yelled in her face. I dunno about you guys, but it would probably be super awesome if onscreen TNA President Dixie Carter would just fire people who yelled at her and harassed her and physically assaulted her and threatened her and Reby Sky-ed at her, y’know? Established authority figures should probably have some kind of authority, otherwise what on earth is the point? I’ll suspend disbelief for a lot of things, but believing there isn’t a more financially viable or popular world champion than Matt Hardy isn’t one of them.
The Decay still hilariously exists, and set up a Monster’s Ball match for next week (this week) because that’s the only kind of match that exists anymore. Billy Corgan is an on-screen character who interacts with Grado. I think that’s the “???” part. Mike Bennett showed up, and I can’t tell if he’s still serious, or if he’s just reenacting A Christmas Carol as ‘Ghost of Heath Slater’s Future.’ Cool gorilla shirt, though. Bobby Lashley wrestled Bram, and I probably would have forgotten it happened whether I was high as heck or not. In Knockouts action, ¯_(ツ)_/¯
Spud showed up, and I’d like to pretend I don’t make gentle cooing noises at him when I’m totally healthy, but that would be a lie and lying is wrong. He tried to dissuade Matt Hardy from being a weirdo asshole, but of course that didn’t happen. EC3 made his return, beat up Tyrus, I realised the I have that same pair of sweatpants, he chased off Matt Hardy, and then at the 2:00 mark of this video gave Dixie and Spud a look that made me really excited to see what happens this week. So what happens this week? Let’s find out!
Best: But Seriously, Just Listen To EC3
Haha, Christmas at the Carters’ must have been so awkward.
EC3 heads to the ring to kick off the show, and calls out ‘salami tits’ Tyrus. Edgy face EC3 might not be my favourite, but I can exclusively report that he means sliced salami and not so much like, the tube stuff. So that’s an important feather in my journalist cap. Tyrus comes out and laments that they used to be real friends, and warns EC3 that he knows all of his secrets – specifically that he’s afraid of being alone. He goes on to say that someone has always had his back and he’s nothing on his own, but I would be way more into a deeper exploration of EC3’s crippling need for approval. While the fact that EC3’s most important matches have been won without assistance seems to slip everyone’s mind, and this was quietly one of the best matches of 2015, this does give Matt Hardy enough time to run out and join Tyrus in beating him up.
Oh no I wonder who will team up with him when he’s been the biggest jerk in the world to everyone *stifled giggles*
Thing That Happened That Won’t Be Important Until Later: Beer Money vs. Wild and Young
I had a placeholder here, and all it said was WILD AND YOUNG MORE LIKE BEER FUNNY. I think the idea was that calling them Team Wild and Young (you know, because Bram’s a ~madman and was also in NXT) was really amusing to me? Maybe? God I hope so. But yeah, Beer Money and Wild and Young have a fairly mundane tag match, but then it ends in a double count out because they want to go fight around the arena. Sure! Why not? They’re gonna end up in a cage at Lockdown because they JUST CAN’T BE CONTAINED, right? I bet the live audience was thrilled.
Best: The 3 Stands Alone
While I’m not super into whatever Yahtzee system Impact is employing in their matchmaking, I am a big fan of characters interacting outside of their feuds in logical and meaningful ways. Drew Galloway approaches EC3 to offer his services as a tag partner. Galloway is the current holder of the Feast World Title briefcase (and is no doubt feeling like a fancy lad after beating Kurt Angle last week), EC3 has his rematch – Matt Hardy’s belt is a common goal for both men. EC3 thanks him for his offer, but insists that he has to face Hardy and Tyrus alone. Whoa, tough guy over here. Galloway wishes him luck, but reminds him that his shot could be against any champion at any time. Yes. Yes. Thoughtful interactions! Potential foreshadowing! Acknowledging that they’re co-workers even if they’re not directly involved in each other’s storylines! Exclamation marks!
Are Beer Money and Wild and Young Still Fighting?
Yes. Yes they are.
Worst: Itsa Me! The Miracle!
So Mike Bennett is still on course to collide with THE CAPTAIN Drew Galloway. He’s attacked Galloway with his own briefcase (strong guy move!), but then whined at Kurt Angle and got his ass handed to him (ooo, not strong). Galloway’s beaten Angle (strong guy move!), and in this episode, Bennett beats ol’ Airpane Boots Mandrews (not…really strong, sorry). Galloway comes out to save Mandrews from a post-match beatdown, and Bennett scurries off. Mike Bennett is still very confusing.
We’re already struggling to figure out who he is, and how he’s defined in TNA. What is The Kingdom? If he’s the Jesus of something, why is married? Why is Maria the First Lady of Professional Wrestling if Bennett’s not the President? Aren’t kingdoms usually ruled by monarchs? Why y’all doin’ the ROH Kingdom hands when there are only two of you because Taven’s injured, and neither him nor Adam Cole are in TNA? What are you saving wrestling from, making sense? Just because you tell us to ‘Google him’ when he debuts doesn’t mean that solves all of your character development issues.
Everything leading up to this point has just made Bennett look feckless and confused. Drew Galloway may have been trapped in wanky storytelling mode with Kurt Angle this year, but that dude is charming and talented and if you stand next to him he’s like the tallest man in the world. He actually looks like a guy you’d be willing to call ‘The Captain.’ At this point do you think Bennett looks like he could take a run at the f-cking Highlander over here? Nuh uh.
Best/Hahaha What: Hahaha What
Okay. So I have…thoughts on the The Decay which we’ll address later. I guess shout out to whomever it was who found a cage (???) to cut a promo in. Maybe Billy Corgan has a sixth sense for this thing because of, you know. His rage. The Best in this is UK wrestler Jimmy Havoc, and not just because he stops everyone from saying the lines they wrote using their spooky word fridge magnets. I am instantly wary of anyone showing up and calling ladies sweetheart and insinuating that there’s a past relationship she’s trying to get away from, BUT for a minute I was genuinely intrigued and want to see where this is going. Also, someone in the YouTube comments pointed out that he looks like a magician. I never read Impact spoilers, but if he knows close-up magic I’m gonna lose my goddamned mind.
Best: Matt Hardy Warns Spud
Matt Hardy and Tyrus (forcefully) sit Spud down, and Hardy explains that he doesn’t want to hurt Spud. He just needs him to remember that you’re the sum of the company you keep, and EC3 is a bad dude who’s been real crummy to Spud specifically in the past. They won’t have to hurt Spud if he minds his own business. Oh boy I sure Spud listens and doesn’t do anything to get involved! *stifled giggling intensifies*
Worst: We Need To Talk About The Decay
When we talk about onscreen authority figures needing to act like actual bosses would, we should probably also task onscreen creative figures to oversee the more…creative parts of the show. To wit: who is overseeing what The Decay is doing, and why is it nobody?
Like, The Decay is probably great if you’re someone who exclusively collects horror-themed Funko pops, or if you’re writing self-insert T-rated fanfiction about Harry Potter falling in love with the goth American witch and she’s got purple eyes because that sounds pretty cool and different. It’s got a whole arc about explaining what Slipknot is to Moaning Myrtle, and describing your enchanted black butterfly tattoo that comes to life. Have you ever dressed up as Heath Ledger’s joker? Do you have a Rorschach tattoo and a lot of thoughts on anarchy? Look down: how many chains do your cargo jeans have? Is it still 2002 where you live? Congratulations, mall goths! Your dream e-fed tag team is here, and it wants to know who watches the Watchmen?
We talked at length in the last report about Monster’s Ball and television hardcore matches, and this match seems to underscore TNA’s ineffective attempts at making them exciting or even moderately relevant in 2016. Lucha Underground’s Grave Consequences is a hardcore match, a casket match, and probably the best match of 2015. This feels like the opposite of that and it’s supposed to be way more hardcore.
I honestly feel like part of TNA is either legitimately trapped in a time warp or the final say in a lot of things is coming from someone who watched wrestling during a very specific time period, but then didn’t keep watching after that. You used to be with it, but then they changed what “it” was. It would explain the issues in the women’s division, Billy Corgan (???), The Decay, Beer Money reuniting, Velvet Sky still being allowed on TV, Matt Hardy being champion… There are a lot of really great decisions and attempts to make Impact Wrestling a good show and relevant to what’s happening in wrestling right now (which is hard because TNA’s off-screen record is justifiably garbage) but instead of feeling like one half isn’t communicating with the other like it used to, it feels like one half is literally being sucked into the past.
Wait holy shit you guys…
Oh my god is one half of Impact literally being sucked into the past?! Is this why Beer Money and Wild and Young are still fighting? Did they get too close to a temporal field causing a rift in their timelines and now they’re doomed to keep fighting forever? Ohhhhhhhhhhh my god.
I will forgive every single f-cked up thing this company has ever done if this is true, and also if Ethan Carter III gets to go back in time and fight his past self to save the world. Every. Single. Thing.
Spud runs into EC3 in the hallway, but cuts him off before he can say anything. He immediately asserts himself, saying that for once HE’S going to be the one to speak first. Spud got his groove back and it’s the actual Best. He explains that he was just trying to do the right thing, and even though they have a very significant shared history EC3 doesn’t deserve to be fired without just cause. EC3 tells Spud that he looks out for others a little too much and his match against Matt Hardy and Tyrus is for him and him alone. Oh no Spud that’s three people warning you not to get involved I really hope you don’t do something rash *is now silently screaming*
Worst: The Doghouse
*is now silently screaming in horror*
Worst: Put Everything Into One Video FFS, or, Best, Sure: Odarg the Great
Grado got the Fired briefcase and subsequently got fired, but he’s determined to prove that he got screwed. This isn’t Grado, however…it’s Odarg the Great! While this may just be a low-rent Mr. NXT situation, like…sure. At least it’s fun and he’s not threatening to kill anyone with a hammer and it’s not Magnus or Scott Steiner or whatever. I’ll go with it. The downside is there’s more Eli Drake, who is still just an absolute mystery to me, but…sure. Let’s see where this all goes.
Best: Jeff Hardy
Are Beer Money and Wild and Young Still Fighting?
Oh. Oh no.
Best: Matt Hardy and Tyrus vs. EC3
Impact main events don’t get a lot of love around here. Whether they feel like afterthoughts, they’re masturbatory Kurt Angle affairs, or they’re just…kinda bad, historically we don’t really spend a lot of time on them. This main event is about to get as much love as I have to give.
In the past two and half years that Ethan Carter III has been on Impact, I have devoted a serious chunk of my life to writing about his character. When you have someone who is as nuanced as EC3, you – as either a viewer or an analyst (or both) – end up tying yourself up in whatever happens to them. That’s what happens when you love wrestling, and you love storytelling, and the character and the person playing them are good enough to remind you why you love those things, instead of simply existing in your life for two hours a week. That’s why amidst every single Worst, I will still shout at you to watch Impact Wrestling if you’re dismissive of it in front of me. It’s why we allow people like Bayley or Sami Zayn or Kevin Owens or Rockstar Spud or motherf-cking Joseph Park to occupy places in our hearts, and not just places in our schedule.
Right now he’s going through a tremendous shift from the best heel on television to, as we mentioned earlier, an edgy babyface. I don’t love the breastfeeding jokes or whatever, but also too I’m much more willing to forgive them when you put it into the context of someone who has never been a good guy and doesn’t actually know how to be a good guy. He’s not a heel wandering out being like YOU GUYS ARE A BUNCH OF PUSSIES and then the next week he’s a face for no reason wandering out saying YOU GUYS A BUNCH OF PUSSY BITCHES. EC3 loves America and doesn’t understand why anyone would need Uber. His family responds to things with lawsuits and injunctions and single-malt scotch instead of real feelings. He’s a legacy who, let’s be real, probably killed a guy in a hazing ritual involving a goat and some weird butt stuff, but now he’s grown up a little and has a ‘real job’ and that murder thing totally got covered up but he still retains that same rich kid frat house sense of humour. He is a calculating, distrustful, manipulative person who can buy and sell and do whatever he wants whenever he wants. Now, in this job, he’s found himself in a position where he’s had to fight and prove himself and earn the things he wants, and he’s done it. Realizing that he can accomplish things on his own isn’t just some special moment that’s all show for the cameras, it’s an actual point of self-discovery. It’s also a very powerful realization, knowing that he doesn’t have to buy and sell whatever he wants, he can just make it happen. That’s interesting, especially considering there’s nothing more that a Carter loves than power. He’s entitled, but now he knows what it’s like to really deserve the victories that he’s had.
Now, someone has taken that from him, and that guy sucks.
I’m still not entirely sold on Matt Hardy’s rejuvenating heel turn or whathaveyou, but as a catalyst for personal change within EC3, I accept it. I still say NEW…MONEY! is a great chant, but I dunno if that’s the kind of cue the Impact audience is self-aware enough to hit. Tyrus got rid of the giant blue dick on the back of his singlet, and now it’s…a guy jerking off?
Sure. You do you, big man.
Tyrus and Hardy take turns working him over, but EC3 is still really strong (those traps, jeez!) and puts up a pretty good fight. As strong as he is, and as noble as his intentions are, the playing field inevitably shifts and it becomes clear that he can’t do this alone.
NO HE CAN’T AND HE DOESN’T HAVE TO AND NOW I’M SCREAMING OUT LOUD
EC3 still refuses his help, because of course he does. Why wouldn’t he? He told Spud to stay out of it, and this is his fight. He’s stubborn and proud and did I mention really strong? Also, why would he trust Spud? He’s been the worst person in the world to Spud; he’s toyed with his emotions, lied to him, and made him feel safe and respected and valued and then in the very next breath taken that away. He’s already at a disadvantage, so why would he risk putting himself into a 3-on-1 situation should Spud decide to deceive him in kind?
Though Spud’s appearance seemed to renew EC3’s determination momentarily, he flags because realistically he’s still getting the shit kicked out of him by two dudes, one of whom is a real dinosaur. He’s tried, and that’s definitely not helped by Matt Hardy putting him in a sleeper hold. It’s not just a clever name! He puts some distance between him and Hardy, pauses for a moment, and then finally tags in Spud. Spud comes in like a house of fire, and also I’m pretty sure my heart just burst.
There are so many little things to appreciate about the match. EC3’s a face guy now, so he’s doing things like the ten-count punching in the corner, or…flying?
Yeah…yeah that’s a real thing he’s doing now. Spud, the most pure-ass babyface the company’s got, takes out Tyrus with a ball shot. That ultimately leads to EC3 hitting the One Percenter and getting the win, but it’s an interesting momentary role reversal.
After Matt Hardy and Tyrus leave, Spud and EC3 are left facing each other in the ring. They stare each other down, and then EC3 gives Spud a look – this look:
It’s brief but loaded, like he’s not sure what just happened, or what’s about to happen. Is Spud going to turn on him now? Is he going to get weird and clingy and emotional? Is he gonna punch HIM in the balls? Spud doesn’t do any of those things, instead giving him a quick bow then leaving. He’s not the same Spud he used to be, and he’s certainly not the Spud EC3 knew. His torture and humiliation of Spud has turned him into this self-actualized, bold, confident person. Everything he said to Spud after their Hair vs. Hair match as a joke, Spud’s become for real. EC3 was evil, and Spud used that to turn into someone amazing. But he can still go either way. They can still fully reverse their roles. Who knows what will happen? It’s brilliant. Brilliant. Characters – consistent, layered, self-referential – are the best goddamn thing because they make these dumb wrestling stories real and possible. As well as you know them, they also have the most room to surprise you. Spud and EC3 are the best characters, and I can’t wait to see what they do next.
The time travel thing. Do that thing.